Gary Dranow has had quite a remarkable journey throughout his tenure as a tech industry entrepreneur, professional skier, and USSA-certified coach. A person to never be without conquering an endeavor, he is currently embodying a music career with his band The Manic Emotions. You could say that it’s been a long road. In fact, given the name of his recently released full-length album, “Destiny Road,” it would appear that Dranow himself would say so.
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Insomuch as he’s referred to the record on many occasions as his “autobiographical” album. Dranow, based in Park City, Utah, continues to draw inspiration from life experiences. His sound is rooted deeply in Blues and Rock and cites direct influence from artists such as Jimmy Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughan. For fans of those prolific artists, Dranow is something that you’re bound to enjoy.
There’s a bit of a folklore with the album, we’ve covered a few of Gary’s singles leading up to the May 2023 release. As the story goes, it was recorded on Jefferson Airplane’s 16-track AMPEX, later learning it was actually tracked from their airplane. If that wasn’t wild enough to stoke the lore, the conceptual demos of the songs were recorded by Gary and Tommy Mars (ex-Frank Zappa Band member).
The writing of the album was spurred by a dream that resulted in a rush of inspiration and fourteen songs written. Originally recorded in the ’90s (written in 1997) it took physical relocation, conversions from analog to digital, and as Dranow puts it “psychological reset” to make the album a 2023 reality.
In this particular view, we’ll be taking a look at “The King is Dead,” one of the first tracks written and recorded for the album. It was originally recorded in one take with very few overdubs (same would be the case for another song on the album, the critically acclaimed “Day I Was Born”).
My first impressions upon listening to it was that certainly it resonated with that SRV and Hendrix influence, but I was also picking up on a cadence that reminded me a lot of Dylan or Tom Petty in this track, as well as an underlying Beatles vibe. Those initial impressions aside, it’s undeniably bluesy and remarkable to think it was captured in just one take.
Dranow’s guitar work is particularly impressive, what Blues song wouldn’t have its moments of shredding guitar licks to answer vocal call backs? Lyrically, Gary is projecting an imagery surrounding the death of royalty and scurrying along as if he were spreading the news (“Haven’t You Heard the News Today?”). However, it turns out that there is an even more deeply rooted underlying concept than what’s on the surface:
“The King is Dead” is a metaphor for love, love being the king. When I wrote the song, world love was hard to find, with wars, racism, and prejudice tearing love for your brother (or sister) apartGary Dranow
Gary Dranow and the Manic Emotions are:
- Gary Dranow – Rhythm and Lead Guitar, Vocals
- Paula DeFries – Backup Vocals
- Jerry Manfredi – Bass
- Jethro DeFries – Drums
- Tommy Mars – Keyboards
Those members, as I have it noted, were credited on the album. That particular lineup possesses several accolades and experiences to speak to, including opening for Frank Zappa. In 2023, the current band has undergone some lineup changes:
- Bob Smith (Blues Brothers Band, The Fabulous Thunderbirds) is now playing drums
- Andy Evans (who has previously worked with Eric Clapton and Sting) is now on bass
- Jeff Lawrence (Jlaw and War Horse) has joined as an additional lead singer and second guitar player
With whispers of another album in the near future on the way, it will be exciting to keep a pulse on this “kingdom” created by Gary Dranow!
Don’t forget to support this project and follow Gary Dranow on Instagram, Facebook, SoundCloud, YouTube, Apple Music, and Spotify. You can also visit their official website. If you enjoy their music and are able to provide monetary support, you might consider downloading it on Bandcamp; for virtual concerts, you can go to songkick “Live from their sofa to yours”.
It also helps to stream and share their music; you can obviously find this track in the following Playlists: Fresh Singles, Indie Only, Alterindie State Of Mind, Sickest & Dopest, and Unknown But Essentials!
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